With the nomination of Gina Lopez to the DENR portfolio, the mining industry in the Philippines has every reason to be perturbed. No, it has every reason to panic. Lopez is known for her staunch, often hysterical stand against mining.
She is not alone though in her campaign against mining. There are very spirited groups throughout the country that are, some of them, led by indigenous peoples and members of indigenous cultural communities. Many of them are church-led or church-sponsored. And the misgivings are not unreasonable. The scarred earth, the polluted streams, the subsidence of topsoil — what mining leaves in its wake seems to capture most vividly human rapaciousness that threatens to turn Earth into one sorry wasteland! (READ: Stand for the environment)
But a thoroughgoing rejection of mining is not practicable.
I will go so far as to say that it lacks integrity. Almost everything that modern life and civilization depend on has some, if not most, elements from mining. From steel trusses and bars to spoons and forks, the products of mining are ubiquitous, and there is no known substitute for the basic materials that must be wrested from beneath the ground!
Now, if you admit that you need materials that are mined – and how can you not? – and at the same time disallow mining in the Philippines, are you giving your approval to mining, as long as it is done elsewhere? That is hypocrisy, to put it more kindly. It is either wrong for all, or wrong for none.
Evidence of abuse
I should not be misinterpreted. I am not saying that all mining practices are acceptable. The evidence of abuse is irrefutable. But abuse is never an argument against what is abused for almost every good thing that has come from the Creator has been abused, even life itself!
I really do not think that the anti-mining advocates seriously mean to exclude all mining from the Philippines. Legally, it cannot be done. Both the Constitution and our statutes allow it.
And the present battle we are fighting with China before an arbitral tribunal over sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea — South China Sea is certainly not over an expanse of choppy sea or a few rocks that jut from the sea only at low tide. It has to do largely rather with deposits of oil and natural gas in the region – all of which are to be mined if they are to be of any good to anyone.
In short, a complete rejection of mining in the Philippines is impracticable and “really unrealistic” – and that conjunction is deliberate!
Responsible mining – that is a reasonable position to take. And that some areas should not be mined at all, that too is right, provided that the criteria are clear, the standards, fair and reasonable.
And when Gina Lopez picked a verbal tussle with Manny Pangilinan and held on to the mike, she was holding on to something that had most of its parts at one time tucked deep within the earth, and brought to its surface by the very process against she was inveighing. So much for performative consistency! – Rappler.com
The author is Dean, Graduate School of Law, San Beda College
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